GEORGE ARTHUR ROBERTSON (1910 - 1995)
(CNAC November 1942 - 1946)
(Captain - ???)
(Hump Flights - XXX)
Bert Pollock and George (big Robbie) Robertson at Suifu
Robbie is wearing his "Hogleg"
Hogleg in this case is a very old term meaning a big pistol carried in a holster on the persons hip.
Called a hogleg because with a little imagination it looked like a hog leg.
I can't remember if Robbie's pistol was a Colt or S&W 44 or 45 but it was a big gun.
(Photo and Caption Courtesy of Jim Dalby)
In the 1943-45 log book of Don McBride, Bob listed his home address as:
G. Arthur Robertson
(I'll let you pick the address)
May 28, 2000, from John Kenehan:
"Robbie Robertson from Macon Georgia with his old Colt 44 was a colorful character. If I'm not mistaken, he brought Margo, a beautiful woman, to the US. We had several very colorful characters."
From Gene Banning's list of 8/31/00:
"... 11/42, (PAA-Ferry Div) prom to capt 7/43; was injured in emergency landing plane #69 at Kunming, 10/6/43; not injured on gear collapse plane #88 landing at Suifu; left CNAC in 1946."
January 2, 2004
A friend who knows I once knew Robbie sent me your link about Robbie that had a picture of him in WWII with CNAC, and your request for any information.
I'm a former Navy Pilot (Lockheed P2V-7, 62-67, west coast & WESTPAC), who, along with a former crew member of mine, were down here in Miami (from NY) back in the early 70's, trying to buy a C46 to start up a cargo line. The owner at that time (Hank Warton) recommended Robbie to help us get the aircraft out of its very moribund state of storage and to check me out on the type. Said he had more time in C46s than probably anyone alive. We hired him.
At the time, he was living in Merritt Island, FL. I'm sure he told us he was originally from New Hampshire. He still had what sounded to me like a New Hampshire accent, though the Georgia accent is similar in some ways, I suppose. He was about 6' tall, if that much, with hair still blond and blue eyes, and just a tad chubby. He ALWAYS had a lit cigar in his mouth...even around the airplane, while taxiing, flying, and landing. He told us many stories of his exploits in the Far East while flying the hump...and some post-war stories too.
Those I can remember:
1. Some pilot he knew over there was trying to smuggle some gold. He had the gold smithed to a point it was like aluminum foil and wrapped it around his body under his clothes. When he hopped from the aircraft door to the ground, the weight of the gold broke both his ankles.
2. Right after the war, he used his "earnings" to purchase a bunch of surplus DC3s in the Philippines and started an airline over there. He soon came back to the U.S. temporarily either with a lady, or met some lady, who conned him out of everything, including all the DC3s.
3. Also after the war, he ferried a great many C-46s back to the U.S. by himself. No co-pilot. No crew. Tried the Aleutian route first but found the weather too dangerous for solo. Thereafter, he ferried them westbound, terminating in the longest overwater leg from western Africa to Miami. This required many barrels of fuel and oil with associated wobble pumps and plumbing in the cabin. He said he'd trim 'er up and put 'er on autopilot (if it worked...few, or none did) and run back in the cabin and "wobble like hell" until he saw nothing but blue water through the cockpit windshield up forward. Then he'd run back up to the cockpit and recover from the dive, only to do it again and again until all the fuel had been transferred. [I was afraid to ask him if he kept a lit cigar in his mouth during that operation!]
4. He was Captain of a Connie that went into Biafra during the famine. On landing, one of the main gear collapsed. The Connie rolled on it's back and slid all the way down the runway inverted. Only the Flight Engineer was killed, he said.
Capt. George A. Robertson ("Robbie" to everybody down here that knew him) held just about every aircraft type-rating there was...including jets, large and small, and was a sort of free-lance Captain on all of them. I believe he also held an A&P. He was also one of the very best pilots I ever flew with. He had to be at least in his mid-sixties, when we finally got the aforementioned C46 up and running at MIA. This C46 (T-CAT) had belonged to Seaboard World and still had Seaboard's colors. We had had to change one R2800 and the other seemed OK in spite of the humongous bird's nest in the carb intake which we hoped we had cleaned out enough. Just Robbie and I were aboard for the test flight. He was in the left seat throughout with a lit cigar in his mouth. Just after take-off, the "bird's nest" engine (#2) started coughing and blowing some smoke. I asked Robbie if he wanted me to feather it. He said, "Hell no, son, she'll clear up in a minute." With that he added even more power to that engine, and soon enough "she cleared up." We climbed up and Robbie broke out his tools to fuss with the prop lever(s) which were not to his liking. He let me fly it for about 20-30 minutes (great airplane to fly!) while he worked.
Finally, we returned to MIA, just in time for the afternoon thunderstorm. I thought we might wait it out for a while but he directed me to tune in 9R on the ILS. He was STILL working on the overhead panel with screwdrivers, etc., while he flew the approach thru the thunderstorm, basically with his knees and feet only, and scarcely a glance at the instruments. He was absolutely spot on the needles throughout the approach. He finished this display with a perfect 3-point landing in heavy rain. Told me thru the lit cigar clenched in his teeth that I should never try a 3-point landing like that in a C46 until I had beaucoup time in type. Then he eschewed the taxiways and proceeded to taxi directly through the mud to "Corrosion Corner" where this plane was kept. That startled me at first until I remembered that the C46 could operate on just about any unprepared surface.
We ran out of money and never did take delivery of the aircraft and so my partner and I went back to NY. I was very disappointed that I never got to check out on the C46 and under his tutelage. I never heard about or saw Robbie again. I DO have a book here somewhere about the Hump operation where Robbie is mentioned briefly.
Gotta be the same Robbie. I know his name was George A. Robertson, and that he flew the Hump.
Delray Beach, FL
January 6, 2004
Sorry to be so slow in answering your e-mail. I don't fire up my computer every day.
Yes it sure sounds like CNAC Captain George Arthur Robertson.
I remember Robbie well. Robbie smoked cigars in flight and put the ashes and cigars out in the window channel over the pilots lap. When we went through rain and the window leaked those damned cigar leavings leaked into my lap and I'm sure others as well. There was no way to dodge them unless you were on autopilot and moved to one side.
Also Robbie slept with his old Colt 45 under his pillow and if disturbed, grabbed it. The servants at Dinjan were afraid of his 45, and would not wake him to fly. They waited until some of us came downstairs, and then said, "Cap't Robertson, he fly too". He could shoot that thing too, as evidenced by the "nicks" in our concrete entrance gate. Sometimes he would shoot at the sound of jackals outside our compound. Once I went outside the compound the next morning, but could never find any blood, so I guess he missed.
Since our flying was the highest paid flying in history, Robby would tear out log sheets before the Chinese office people got the book, to get more hours flying time than the company wanted a pilot to fly. CNAC tried to stop a pilot at about a reasonable 130 hours. We were ready to go to Calcutta for R&R.
Do you know if Howard Dean (deceased) father of the one running for Democratic nomination is still living? If so, let me know if he is still alive has an e-mail address. He visited our flat in Calcutta often then left Calcutta to become a Wall Street stock broker.
Again, thanks for doing such a wonderful job on our website.
June 17, 2004
Robbie has two sons. I think both graduated from college. Reg Farrar has considerable information about Robbie. I think he taped an interview with him. He probably knows when he died. I think he was cutting grass to get money to live on and send the two boys to college. Robbie had the toughest life of anyone I know, including me. Roy Farrell talks about him in his unpublished manuscript.
A binge with Robbie and Jimmy Scoff will never be forgotten. We lived hard, and played hard.
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